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Mounties Red-Faced Over Break-In

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mortified officials of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police admitted Monday that Mounties assigned to guard Prime Minister Jean Chretien made errors in judgment and violated security procedures in an incident in which a man armed with a knife broke into Chretien’s official residence in Ottawa.

The intruder was confronted by the prime minister’s wife, Aline, who locked herself and her husband in their bedroom and summoned police from a guardhouse on the grounds. The Chretiens were unhurt in the Sunday morning incident.

But RCMP Commissioner Phil Murray said too much time elapsed--seven minutes--between Aline Chretien’s call and the arrest of the intruder, in part because the Mounties opted to surround the house first to prevent any escape. He called that an error in judgment and a violation of operational procedures, which call for protection of the prime minister as the top priority.

On Monday, authorities charged Andre Dallaire, a 34-year-old convenience store clerk from a Montreal suburb, with attempted murder, breaking and entering, possession of a weapon and being unlawfully in a dwelling.

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“You can assume from the charge that the [prosecutors] and the police believe there is at least evidence of an attempt to kill the prime minister,” Dallaire’s lawyer, John Hale, told reporters after a brief court appearance at which the defendant was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment.

At a news conference earlier in the day in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, Murray and Bryan McConnell--who heads the prime minister’s security detail--promised improved security at the mansion as well as a thorough investigation of the incident.

“I’m still considerably upset about it. It’s quite unacceptable,” Murray said of the Mounties’ performance.

McConnell said a man entered the house by breaking a glass door with a rock at 2:45 a.m. Sunday. Aline Chretien rose to investigate the noise and came face to face with the man, who was holding an open five-inch jackknife, outside the couple’s bedroom door. She slammed and locked the door on the intruder and called the guardhouse.

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The intruder did not try to enter the bedroom.


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